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Plan maps future for Murrysville

| Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, 7:24 a.m.

Murrysville is home to an aging population along with younger families who can't afford to buy the empty-nesters' larger lots, according to an architect who is developing the municipality's comprehensive plan.

The plan provides a glimpse into Murrysville's future, including some trends that are beginning to emerge, Andrew Schwartz, of Pittsburgh-based Environmental Planning and Design, told officials this week.

“You need to start thinking about that (55- to 65-year-old demographic) now,” Schwartz said. “Are there some places that maybe there should be higher densities encouraged?”

The U.S. Census shows:

•◘ In 2000, the number of residents ages 55-65 was 1,656.

•◘ By 2010, the number in that age group had grown to 2,206.

•◘ In 2012, 89 percent of homes were owner-occupied, and the median price was $208,000.

•◘ The median household income was $87,107 in 2012; the number of people per household was 2.49.

•◘ The population grew .07 percent in a decade, reaching 20,219 in 2012.

Schwartz listed smaller lot sizes as an option that could increase population density. More residents may want to downsize in the future, he said.

One objective of the plan is to “encourage retention of long-term residents and attract a new generation of long-term residents.”

Schwartz presented a final draft of the 71-page comprehensive plan to council this week. The 10-year plan is meant to outline the 37-square-mile municipality's intentions and goals. It lists goals of maintaining quality, managing growth, improving transportation, celebrating community and fiscal responsibility.

“(It aims to) maintain and enhance the community's commitments to quality education, open space, fiscal management, responsible development and business opportunity,” he said.

The plan takes a different look at “build-out” than the current 10-year-old plan.

“In terms of the land capacity, what areas really could develop?” Schwartz said. “The amount of development and the pace of development was significantly different than it is today.”

The plan recommends compiling data about the municipality's older neighborhoods, considering opportunities in south Murrysville and encouraging more community outreach, such as listing community organizations on www.murrysville.com.

Mayor Bob Brooks asked Schwartz to focus on industrial parks, perhaps near Route 366 and Route 286. Some companies that showed interest have located elsewhere because Murrysville couldn't accommodate them, Brooks said.

Council will review the plan, sharing copies with the public and officials in Westmoreland County, adjoining communities and Franklin Regional School District. After that, council will hold a public hearing about the document, then finalize it and consider approving it.

A group including representatives from council and Franklin Regional School District made up the comprehensive plan study committee.

Council President Joan Kearns, a member of the committee, called the plan “clear and concise” and a “good summation” of the group's ideas.

In other business, council approved an $8 million budget with no property tax increase. The tax rate will remain at 12.15 mills for 2014.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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